Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Berek Rothenberg - May 20, 1984

Getting a Job from the Judenrat

Were you, were you marched out there by the, the German army or by the Gestapo?

I think it was by the army. We didn't--we saw German soldiers and we couldn't tell. Later on we knew who the SS were, who the Wehrmacht was and who the SD was. On the beginning Germans, Germans they all wore the uniform, they all were mean and uh, just the look on them uh, you, you got scared. You couldn't walk on the sidewalk. You had to get off from the sidewalk, you had to take off your hat for each German. It's no difference or he was a Gestapo or he was a Wehrmacht. Now they making differences--oh the Wehrmacht was better than the Gestapo. They all were alike. To me uh, when he was a German--when he was wearing the uniform, he, he fill out the, the, the command like, like everybody else.

So uh, uh, what happened next in your town?

Then in next in our, in our town, so it happened that uh, that right away start uh, his name was Gudel Edelman and he organized a, a, a work, I mean, he was the organizer like on an employment office. He went to the Germans--to the Gestapo, and he told 'em, "Look, how many people you need? You need five hundred people, don't grab the shoemaker with the tailor with the carpenter with the--when he have to make a living. Just come to me, give me an order for five hundred people, I will give it to you." So he took a--made a list for all Jewish men from uh, ten--twelve years to sixty-five. And when they told him, "We need three...four hundred people," so they--he went and he had already helpers and he sent out the, the names and he came up to you and he says, "Look, you have to go to work tomorrow..."

[interruption in interview]

"...if you have somebody to send in my place I would appreciate it, or I pay you. How much cost it, twenty zlotys or something?" And, and etc. And then, so what happened? They had to--they, they, they so many people to work already, plus they had--if they, if they saw girls or they saw a man on the street, they grabbed him anyway. I remember I was already working. Let's say I had to work two days a week or three days a week. My father was a shoemaker, my brother was a tailor, and I was working with my, with my father. So sometimes my father went to this Edelman, he said, "Listen. My son will work for me for, for, for him and for his brother. He will work five days a week, you got a place for him?" So he found a place or I went in the army and shined the shoes when they came back from the, from the--when they out for exercise, when they went out. When they came back I grabbed their shoes and shining. Or I had to clean the toilets, or you had to clean the bathrooms. Uh, those kind of works. So still they were not satisfied with that--what he delivered those people. Plus that--they went and they--we're the one that drove by with the truck. When they saw some young people uh, on the street, they grab you. You always were on--you couldn't, you couldn't walk out. If you went out for--to buy a bread or something so if you just, you cross the street. Then they organized Jewish police. And the Jewish policemans they supposed to, they supposed to work on the, on the Jewish side or they help--if they got a order they, they took the order from the Germans too.

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